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Ghana’s national records at risk as conditions at PRAAD deteriorate

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Ghana risks losing vital national records unless urgent measures are taken to rescue deteriorating conditions at the Public Records and Archives Administration Department (PRAAD).

Many air conditioners at the PRAAD offices at Adabraka in Accra are broken down, while the roofs of some of the buildings are leaking badly, thus making it impossible to keep the records under the required 24-hour temperature and exposing the documents to the weather.

The only photocopier  is also broken down and documents have to be carried outside the PRAAD offices for photocopying for researchers who patronise the place.

At the moment, the department has no backup of records, and in the event of a fire outbreak or any natural disaster, all the national records under the roofs of PRAAD will be lost, perhaps, for good.

Confronted with such extensive deterioration, the acting Director of PRAAD, Mr Felix Nyarko Ampong, and management have sent an SOS message to the government and the donor community to rescue the department from its predicament, given the key role records play in national development.

Even in the age of information technology, there is not a single computer at PRAAD to facilitate the management of electronic record keeping.

The lack of computers is holding up plans to set up an Electronic Management Unit to spearhead the transformation of electronic record management in the public sector.

The department is starved of funds, having to use more than half of its budgetary allocation of about GH¢2.9 million in 2011 on personal emoluments, leaving very little for operations in all the 10 regional offices.

In spite of its neglect, PRAAD continues to play a critical role in national development, and Mr Ampong recalls that recently, records produced from PRAAD helped to avert a boundary dispute between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire over the Dzata Field, one of the country’s oil endowments, thus saving the nation substantial oil treasure.

“So all should come and assist this department from collapsing because it can perform useful service to Mother Ghana,” Mr Ampong said.

The state of affairs in the regions is even more despicable as none of them have even one vehicle for operational duties.

Apart from Kumasi and Cape Coast, all the regional offices are temporarily located in regional co-ordinating council buildings.

According to Mr Ampong, there was the need to transform all hard copy documents into soft copy and put them on the Internet for even people living abroad to access.

He said without proper record management, it would be difficult for people to access information even under a Right to Information legal regime.

Mr Ampong said the lack of professionals in the system was also undermining good record management.

The Public Records and Archives Administration Act, 1997 (Act 535), established PRAAD with the mandate to effectively and efficiently manage public record in the country.

However, lack of funding and logistics have undermined its envisaged role.

Mr Ampong said the poor state of affairs had existed for a very long time, adding that although the authorities concerned had been notified about the bad state of affairs, nothing had been done about it so far.

He, therefore, appealed to the donor community to lend its support, adding that the department would organise a donor conference in due course to raise funds to bail out PRAAD.

Already, Tullow Ghana has responded to the SOS call with a pledge to support the modernisation of PRAAD.

Source: Daily Graphic

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One comment

  1. The most unfortunate cause of the deterioration is computer illiteracy. About 80 per cent of the so-called high officials in government are computer dumb . They have little or no knowledge of operating under database management. They talk big but display ignorance in their day-to-day administrative directives and management styles. Take the National Identification Cards registration as an example of what a simple compilation would have meant to serve a wider national purpose , had it been successful. These guys must travel to America and other advanced nations to learn how to govern. A person’s identification card must reveal detailed information about the person from a well managed database. Gone are those handwritten-ledger days ! We must think management of electronic record keeping . Unless our present leaders courageously relinquish their politically appointed positions to a younger better-informed personnel we shall undoubtedly bequethe a degenerated fate to a baffled posterity .